A stumble for major Butchertown development?

When Charles Carlisle, CEO of Nashville-based developer The Bristol Group, came to Butchertown in November to unveil the firm’s vision for redeveloping a historic block in the east downtown neighborhood, he met with a good bit of support — and, naturally, some firm opposition — from the neighbors.

Hyland-Glass-Building-e1421441088131
Hyland Glass Building

The $48 million proposal, which would require the demolition of four historic buildings on East Main Street between Clay and Washington streets, calls for a seven-story, 260-unit upscale condo and apartment complex — possibly with retail at street level. The developer would preserve the Hyland Glass Building facade.

To say this is a departure from the vibe of the area is to embrace understatement with rare ambition.

But progress marches forward, and although Butchertown is governed by a strict set of historic preservation guidelines, most stakeholders were willing to accept the project. It’s a transitional plot between Butchertown and downtown. It’s also near the Ohio River Bridges Project, which scoffs at scale.

So the Butchertown Neighborhood Association and NuLu Business Association offered their approval. And aside from the protests of a few preservation-minded neighbors, things were looking up for the development.

Then something unexpected happened. The urban design administrator for Metro’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission recommended the neighborhood’s Architectural Review Committee deny the project.

In other words, the professional whose job it is to uphold development standards in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods said the project broke the rules and didn’t fit the neighborhood.

Then, in what a Metro Planning staffer told IL was a “very rare” move, the majority of the voting members of the ARC disagreed, approving the development on Dec. 10 over the objections of staff — and, incidentally, other historic neighborhood associations. Both the Clifton and Cherokee Triangle groups spoke out against the ARC’s actions, arguing that overruling staff reports sets a dangerous precedent. That sort of cross-pollination doesn’t happen often, either.

The whole ordeal prompted attorney Stephen T. Porter to file an appeal of the ARC decision. He claims the board gave no justification for overruling the staff report. That kicks the matter to the Landmarks Commission for further review, which is slated for early next month.

Ostensibly, the appeal and hearing could slow the project down — or at least it’s designed to, it seems, even if it falls short of forcing a developer to acquiesce. However, The Bristol Group is proceeding with a hearing on Thursday before the Land Development and Transportation Committee.

Carlisle tells IL his company remains “100 percent committed to the project.” He said the firm is pressing forward with its plans, although he was careful to add that the Landmarks Commission — and Metro Planning — are the final arbiters, not The Bristol Group.

IL asked Butchertown Neighborhood Association President Andy Cornelius why this particular development should be given a pass from the historic preservation guidelines established to help the neighborhood shed its light-industrial past without also disappearing its gritty character.

“It’s not a perfect plan, but I’d venture to say the city’s yet to see a perfect plan for any development,” he says. “But we did feel it’s a best use for that area.”

Local med-tech startup Nicview acquired by Natus Medical Inc.

logoNicview, founded in 2010 and headquartered on Baxter Avenue, provides real-time viewing of infants in neonatal intensive care and pediatric wards to anyone with an Internet-connected device and the correct password. The purpose is to promote early family bonding — a very cool concept.

This month, the local startup was acquired by Natus Medical Inc.

Natus, headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif., is a provider of medical devices, software and services for the newborn care, neurology, sleep, hearing and balance markets. Natus products are used in hospitals, clinics and laboratories worldwide. Most of its products are for screenings and diagnostics. The company was founded in 1989, and its products are used in more than 100 countries.

IL will have more on the Nicview product and the firm’s success soon…

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